UK Transport Crisis?

Possibly a bit of a spin off from Coronavirus and Brexit threads but there is an interesting problem developing this week on chilled and frozen food distribution.

I am a transport manager in chilled food distribution for a mid sized producer, I've just taken my second call this week from contacts in the industry desperate for help in distribution
Our purchasing department has also just been obliged to ask our tranport department for help in collecting inward bound goods from our suppliers

As the country emerges from lockdown there is a desperate shortage of HGV drivers and supplies are now failing with delays in deliveries already up to 4 days.
It's going to get worse of the next week or two.

Two primary causes are Brexit and Coronavirus, thousands of eastern european drivers went home because of Coronavirus (many given no work and no furlough) and they aren't coming back

Be prepared for panic buying chaps, your avacado's and lettuce is going to get a bit thin on the shelves......
 

ugly

LE
Moderator
Not helped by lack of driver tests due to lockdown, a mate has been waiting for his hgv theory test for nearly a year
 

Polyester

War Hero
Possibly a bit of a spin off from Coronavirus and Brexit threads but there is an interesting problem developing this week on chilled and frozen food distribution.

I am a transport manager in chilled food distribution for a mid sized producer, I've just taken my second call this week from contacts in the industry desperate for help in distribution
Our purchasing department has also just been obliged to ask our tranport department for help in collecting inward bound goods from our suppliers

As the country emerges from lockdown there is a desperate shortage of HGV drivers and supplies are now failing with delays in deliveries already up to 4 days.
It's going to get worse of the next week or two.

Two primary causes are Brexit and Coronavirus, thousands of eastern european drivers went home because of Coronavirus (many given no work and no furlough) and they aren't coming back

Be prepared for panic buying chaps, your avacado's and lettuce is going to get a bit thin on the shelves......
It’ll take a bit of imaginative thinking to sort this out. It’ll be interesting to see how this get sorted in the short term. Rail and distribution hubs? Christ knows.
 
Maybe the whole transport distribution network needs a re-think. In a previous job, one of the things the company did was HVG tracking - cigarette lorries and other things. I noticed quite a lot of journies seemed unnessesary - goods leave factory - get delivered to a distribution hub 200 miles away, then get redelivered to various places within 10 miles of the actual factory. Ginsters in Cornwall being one example. I think all pasties get shipped to Brum before being disted around the country.

Edit: I understand my knowledge of this is very simplistic and there are likely good reasons for how things currently are.
 
It seems a bit odd that there are still large areas of the economy propped up by furlough, taking the government wedge, while others are crying out for staff.

In reality, we have possibly seen one of the biggest shifts in work over the last 18 months since the first industrial revolution took people from the fields into factories. What skill base and ways of working we had in early March 2020 is, in large areas of the economy, not what we need now. It would be stupid to deny this and try and go back to how things were, I sense the 'genie is out of the bottle'.

We have skills imbalances in significant areas as some industries have completely shut down (civil aviation is not coming back at the same scale for several years it seems), and others will be permanently much smaller (large parts of retail)

We probably have some significant regional and geographic imbalances too.

What we need is a way of re-training people from the areas of the economy that are not coming back in the same way, to fulfil gaps in the areas which have stayed the same or grown. I'm not sure having a blanket furlough scheme makes much sense in this context, as I expect some people will end up unemployed at the end of furlough anyway.
 
Maybe its down to wages ? My old biff of a Brother ( I can walk better than him ) was laid off at the start of the pandemic from Class 1 &2 work, after over a year doing nothing, He has a couple of offers, class 1 local ( Scottich ) work or driving a van , he has chosen the van work as its £12.90 ph, easy going ,not so much as a target for DVSA, Plod and professional brake testers, and any way the offer on artics was £13.50.
 
It’ll take a bit of imaginative thinking to sort this out. It’ll be interesting to see how this get sorted in the short term. Rail and distribution hubs? Christ knows.

My directors have instructed me to nicely decline any requests for help

The view being that what would have been spare resource a week or two ago is likely to be swallowed up in efforts to maintain the supply of raw materials in to our factories.
We have had multiple suppliers or their 3PL providers in touch today to tell us that the only way we will get supply if we collect it.

We have considerable capability to do that and we anticpate we will need to use it
 
Last edited:
It seems a bit odd that there are still large areas of the economy propped up by furlough, taking the government wedge, while others are crying out for staff.

In reality, we have possibly seen one of the biggest shifts in work over the last 18 months since the first industrial revolution took people from the fields into factories. What skill base and ways of working we had in early March 2020 is, in large areas of the economy, not what we need now. It would be stupid to deny this and try and go back to how things were, I sense the 'genie is out of the bottle'.

We have skills imbalances in significant areas as some industries have completely shut down (civil aviation is not coming back at the same scale for several years it seems), and others will be permanently much smaller (large parts of retail)

We probably have some significant regional and geographic imbalances too.

What we need is a way of re-training people from the areas of the economy that are not coming back in the same way, to fulfil gaps in the areas which have stayed the same or grown. I'm not sure having a blanket furlough scheme makes much sense in this context, as I expect some people will end up unemployed at the end of furlough anyway.
What would the pay differential be between an airline pilot with one of the budget airlines, with only a few years experience under his belt, and an HGV driver? I can't help but think a young lad with the skills and training to fly a plane but with little prospect of getting back to his line of work, much less getting promotion, would make a very good truck driver if the pay was right. How long would it take to train up to become an HGV driver?
 
Maybe its down to wages ? My old biff of a Brother ( I can walk better than him ) was laid off at the start of the pandemic from Class 1 &2 work, after over a year doing nothing, He has a couple of offers, class 1 local ( Scottich ) work or driving a van , he has chosen the van work as its £12.90 ph, easy going ,not so much as a target for DVSA, Plod and professional brake testers, and any way the offer on artics was £13.50.

In part yes it's wages. I had an agency on the phone yesterday (I know the bloke quite well) offering me £22 an hour to moonlight on Class 1 work with him at weekends.

As it happens I'm likely to drive at work most of next week so it isn't an option

As far as I can tell it's mostly a case of what drivers are looking for work can suddenly be very choosey and are acutely aware of which employers screwed everybody over during Coronavirus

Up until recently a lot of drivers were self employed and they were really screwed over by their primary employers
 
What would the pay differential be between an airline pilot with one of the budget airlines, with only a few years experience under his belt, and an HGV driver? I can't help but think a young lad with the skills and training to fly a plane but with little prospect of getting back to his line of work, much less getting promotion, would make a very good truck driver if the pay was right. How long would it take to train up to become an HGV driver?

Easy Jet have been sending pilots for retraining as HGV drivers throughout the pandemic.
Getting test dates is another matter!
 

arfah

LE
Possibly a bit of a spin off from Coronavirus and Brexit threads but there is an interesting problem developing this week on chilled and frozen food distribution.

I am a transport manager in chilled food distribution for a mid sized producer, I've just taken my second call this week from contacts in the industry desperate for help in distribution
Our purchasing department has also just been obliged to ask our tranport department for help in collecting inward bound goods from our suppliers

As the country emerges from lockdown there is a desperate shortage of HGV drivers and supplies are now failing with delays in deliveries already up to 4 days.
It's going to get worse of the next week or two.

Two primary causes are Brexit and Coronavirus, thousands of eastern european drivers went home because of Coronavirus (many given no work and no furlough) and they aren't coming back

Be prepared for panic buying chaps, your avacado's and lettuce is going to get a bit thin on the shelves......

Avocado and Lettuce ?!

This ain’t mumsnet!
 
Possibly a bit of a spin off from Coronavirus and Brexit threads but there is an interesting problem developing this week on chilled and frozen food distribution.

I am a transport manager in chilled food distribution for a mid sized producer, I've just taken my second call this week from contacts in the industry desperate for help in distribution
Our purchasing department has also just been obliged to ask our tranport department for help in collecting inward bound goods from our suppliers

As the country emerges from lockdown there is a desperate shortage of HGV drivers and supplies are now failing with delays in deliveries already up to 4 days.
It's going to get worse of the next week or two.

Two primary causes are Brexit and Coronavirus, thousands of eastern european drivers went home because of Coronavirus (many given no work and no furlough) and they aren't coming back

Be prepared for panic buying chaps, your avacado's and lettuce is going to get a bit thin on the shelves......
It's been brewing for a while, coming from you this will confuse people....
 
We've been having the same issues in the US for years. The companies say there's a shortage and want regulations loosened. The drivers say it's a retention issue due to poor working conditions.

Is There Really A Truck Driver Shortage?

'Real chronic driver shortage problem:' Trucking industry seeks younger truck drivers
I have absolutely no skin in the game but as an outsider one has to say that it seems like a simple case of supply and demand.

The same situation is being reported in the leisure and food and beverage sector, we're coming out of COVID and Brexit and suddenly a lot of employers are finding that the cheap staff they always assumed would be available have disappeared. The Guardian ran a piece last week about this, trained chefs now working in Tescos suddenly finding they don't have to work 70 hours a week in a hot and busy kitchen being treated like shit, they can earn the same money doing a much easier job.

It's the free market, if employers genuinely feel that they desperately need skilled staff then they are just going to have to start paying for them and adjusting terms and conditions to adapt to the needs of their employees. If they can't run their business on those terms then so be it, the companies than can will do so and survive, that's what capitalism is all about.

We may find we have to pay a bit more for things in the coming years but if we believe in the free market and capitalism we have to accept that sometimes the pendulum swings the other way after decades of driving down wages.

Good luck to the truckers, more power to their beefy elbows, if they can get reasonable hours and decent wages in this situation they should exploit it to the full.
 

Latest Threads

Top